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Comment Yes (Score 1) 280

I am ashamed of my code !

My code is an abomination that must be ejected from the visible universe !

We must send a message that will pass through the Big Crunch that will alert future universes that my code should not exist in any possible future !

Etc.

I am so ashamed.

Comment You don't have a supercomputer in space (Score 1) 46

The problem with relying on the timing of the pulses is dispersion of the wave packet in interstellar space. Keep in mind that these signals travel hundreds of light years trough interstellar space, which is by no means a perfect vacuum.

Sometimes entire pulses are missing from the signal. Pulsar study groups use computer clusters for the sole purpose of reconstructing the original form of the pulse. For example, the one at McGill Univ. was student-built, but it made it to the (bottom of the) Top 500 list at the time it was built.

A spacecraft has very limited computing power, certainly not of the magnitude required to reconstruct pulses. The signal is very dirty, it would be a bad idea to rely on its timing. The pulses are very regular, "when the signal is good".

Comment Maybe orientation, but not distances (Score 1) 46

Pulsar navigation may allow to determine the direction in which the spacecraft is traveling, but not the actual distance from Earth, unless the spacecraft has traveled very large distances.

A simple example. Last time I checked, Voyager1 was 18 light-hours away from Earth. Now Alpha Centauri is 4 light-years away. Multiply 4 by 365 and then by 24 and divide by 18.
That tells us that Alpha Centauri is about 2000 times more distant than Voyager1.

Put two dots on a blackboard, 2 meters apart. The dots represent Earth and Alpha Centauri. Then Voyager1, the spacecraft that has traveled farthest from Earth, is a full 1 millimeter away from the Earth point.

The closest pulsar to Earth is at an estimated distance of about 250 light-years. The pulsars will be very useful to find the direction, but for distance timing radio signals from Earth to the spacecraft remains the best method.

Comment Low blow from Magnus (Score 1) 131

It is well known that chess players try to unsettle their opponents before important matches, and a world championship match is as big as it gets.

However, capitalizing on the fact that the opponent is Russian, the match is played in New York, the fact that it starts immediately after the presidential elections, and that there was a lot of noise about Russia hacking US servers, is quite low.
Well below what is expected from a reigning Chess World Champion.

Disgusting stuff.

Comment Much wiser approach (Score 2) 93

Everyone agrees that China plans their space missions such that they learn the maximum from the current one before planning the next one. The lessons are learned and applied before moving on the next step, hence the result that they are learning the same things on much smaller budgets.

What I am amazed is that the Russians managed to achieve what they did despite the very incompetent political leadership. One highly incompetent (and mostly illiterate) politician used to sit close to the rockets during launches to prove to the engineers that they had nothing to fear, and that they should trust the wisdom of the party.

During the height of the space race with NASA, the Russian engineers were simply informed by the politicians when the next launch will take place, typically on some politically important date. They rarely had more than 2 years to prepare and therefore had to cut a lot of corners to meet the deadline.

It is remarkable that they had so few accidents.

Comment Scientifically proven true (Score 1) 122

Let's review the facts:

1) A lot more people die driving/biking/walking/taking the bus/teleporting/etc over to a friend's place than those sitting in front of a computer.
2) Using Facebook 18 hours a day dumbs down the senses to the point that nothing will give the person a heart attack.
3) Slow metabolism induced by the lack of physical exercise when using Facebook reduces the wear of the vital organs, hence longer life is a given.

Now I will follow Garry Kasparov's advice from his book "How life imitates chess". That one was about articles that explain what type of food is bad for your health, but it applies here a well:

Just wait 6 months for the next study that will prove the opposite.

Comment Scientific proof (Score 5, Funny) 126

There is an old example of how scientific proof can be obtained for the conclusion that you actually want.

A scientist puts a flea on the table and shouts at it:

"Jump!"

And the flea jumps.
Then the scientist carefully cuts off the flea's legs, puts it back on the table and shouts:

"Jump!"

And the flea does not jump.
After this, the scientist happily writes down on his notebook:

"After it lost its legs, the flea cannot hear anymore."

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